Checking Out the Comments   Leave a comment

I checked out the comments on the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story on the local dry-cabin community and found a lot of Alaska culture.

Dry cabins abound here in Fairbanks for a lot of reasons.

  • An average house in Fairbanks rents for over $1200 a month.
  • Well drilling is expensive. If you live down in the valley, you don’t have to go very deep, but the water is awful — stinky, full of iron and calcium and organic material, makes your skin dry and your hair brittle and (for blonds) an unlovely shade of orange, and you have to worry if your neighbor dumps any toxic chemicals on his property that might get into the ground water.
  • Also, if you live in some parts of the Tanana Valley or Goldstream Valley (they’re adjacent) permafrost soil means no perk (water will not flow), so you can’t use a traditional septic system and the alternatives are essentially the same as dry cabin living.
  • If you live in the hills, you most likely have rock under your property, which means a drill core has to hit a water fissure. If they don’t, you could be out thousands of dollars and still have no water. I have a friend who drilled three wells at over $10,000 a piece before he gave up and bought a water tank.
  • If you heat with wood, you don’t have to worry about freezing water pipes if you can’t get home in time.
  • Homes in the old gold mining districts sit over water tables contaminated with arsenic. You can flush a toilet with it, but you can’t bathe in it safely and forget about drinking it, so ….

Gerald Newton, who has an impressive history of academic achievement and community service, feels that using an outhouse and cutting wood as a kid made him “humble and tough”. He claims “No indoor plumbing is good for people.”

It’s definitely survivable. My husband Brad, who has never lived without indoor plumbing, thinks it’s a great idea and will be building his dream cabin on our Steese Highway land in the near future. He plans to spend most of his time out there.

I will visit, spend a few days, probably take my turn dumping the honey buckets, etc., and then return to town where water comes out of the wall magically. I have lived without running water. I know it’s not romantic and I find it debatable if it makes you a better person to grow up without it. I suspect it makes you a tougher person with a more practical mind set than city living does and that’s a good thing, but everyone I know who grew up without running water has it now and many say they would not live without it. EVER.

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